McGee: Where have all the payphones gone?

Have you noticed payphones are vanishing from the landscape? And of those that are still around … do they even work?

The Lady of the House and I had no cell phone service when we arrived in Red River up in Taos County; a little phone receiver with a slash through it was all that was on our cell phone screens.

"I like being cut off from the world," said The Lady of the House. "So Walden Pond-ish."

"But what if something goes wrong at the house? What if a giant space rock drops on the bicycle shop?" I asked.

"That's why we have insurance," said The Lady of the House.

Early the next morning I took the dogs out for a walk, keeping my eye out for a payphone along the way.

Midway through town I saw a phone booth! An actual phone booth. I opened the door. No phone. But there was a phone book dangling lonely on some wire.

What good is a phone book in a phone booth with no phone?

Later in the day we drove to Taos, keeping my eyes open for a payphone. I spied one at a convenience store. We pulled in.

There was no dial tone.

"Did it need money first?" asked The Lady of the House.

"I'm not falling for that," I said.

When we returned to Red River I moseyed over to the fire station up the street. There was a guy in the office.

"There are no payphones around here," I said.

"Funny," he said, "We were just talking about that the other day. There's actually only one cell phone company that works up here."

I held up my phone for him to see.

"And it's not that one," he said.

He let me make a credit card call home. All was well at the Stucco Hacienda and no space rocks had fallen on the bicycle shop.

Grant McGee is a long-time broadcaster and former truck driver who rides bicycles and likes to talk about his many adventures on the road of life. Contact him at:

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